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Scratch Build – In Progress Carbon/Wood-scratch build

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by InsolentGnome, 8 Feb 2022.

  1. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Minimodder

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    Welp, back at it again. I don't think I've done build logs for the last two cases I've done, so this might be a bit rough around the edges, but I'll give it a go!

    It's been a minute since LAN parties and since it seems I might be able to attend some this year, I decided now would be a good time to build a new case for competition. I can't keep taking the same old cases to new events!

    So here's the initial design:

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    I want something that looks fancy and refined while just sitting on a desk, but then lights up and shows off the hardware when it's running. The plan is carbon fiber for the middle structure and some sort of wood side panels with a mirrored or tinted piece of acrylic for the curved window. I wanted a different way of looking at the hardware instead of through a side panel, so solid sides and a see through front and top.

    So let's start with the hardware, not the most important part of a build, but without it, I'd just be building a box.

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    Gigabyte Z690, i7 12700K, 32 GB of Vengeance PRO RAM, a Silverstone SFX-L power supply, and a CM 240mm AIO. I've got a couple of drives that will obviously go with but I don't remember what they are and I still need to figure out the fans. And then there's the giant chunk of unobtanium that is the GeForce RTX3080Ti. A big thanks to GeForce Garage for helping me out!

    And now the box I'm shoving all this into...

    First off trying to get an idea of spacing and sizes so I can figure out how big this framework needs to be. Yes, I've started and have no clue how big the case will actually end up. It's just how my process works, don't ask.

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    With a general idea of size now, I can start working up a mold. I'm using 1/2" MDF.

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    Yes, I built a box, but only because it's easier to just make the whole thing rather than make something the exact pattern I'm going for. This way I can use the box to draw out and eyeball the design and once I get it where I like it, I can just layup the carbon fiber in the pattern I want.

    I used screws to hold it together while the glue dried and then pulled them so they wouldn't get in the way later and used putty to fill in all the holes and any misses on the panel edges.

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    After that was sanded out, I took an 1/8" roundover bit to all the corners to make the layup easier. Then a couple coats of shellac to seal the MDF so when I coat it with epoxy, it's not soaking into the wood.

    Now was the time to do a bit of layout work. I know I want some insets in the mold and to know where I need to do some cutting, I need an idea of where the components are going.

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    Next time, I should be cutting some holes in my brand new box and hopefully getting to a point where I can lay down some epoxy.

    Thanks for following along and thanks to GeForce Garage for sponsoring this build!

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  2. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    :clap: Welcome back!
     
  3. Defyant Mods

    Defyant Mods Multimodder

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    Loving the chunk of unobtanium that's sitting @ the top ! Very clean and modern:rock:
     
  4. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Minimodder

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    With the component locations laid out, I can start prepping for some of the details I want in the finished product. Firstly I want to raise the fans on the floor and the PSU up a bit. Multiple reasons for this, more room for the power cable, more space in front of the fans, and more interesting than just making the floor flat.

    First step, cut hole.

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    Check. Next step, chamfer the edges.

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    Check. Next, slap in a board to fix the giant hole I just put in my mold.

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    The screws are there to hold it all in place while the glue dries. They'll get pulled out and the holes filled. Speaking of filling, I definitely want to smooth the edges out.

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    In between layers of filler, I decided some science was necessary. I'd like to vacuum bag this layup to reduce air pockets and get nice and tight corners, but the mold being hollow is a bit of a problem. I've got the perfect foam to fill the mold laying around, but I wasn't sure if it would hold up under vacuum, so bring on the experiment. It's simple enough, make foam, measure the volume in a bucket of water, put the foam under vacuum, see if it collapses by comparing the volume to the previous measurement.

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    I didn't think it would collapse cause it's some pretty tough stuff(I use the 4lb version to support weak tub floors and it feels like you've put concrete under them), and there was no appreciable change in volume at the precision I need for this. Next up filling the mold.

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    I'd be extremely leery of doing this with the normal expanding foam you get in a can. That stuff can keep exerting pressure even when it meets resistance(ask me about it lifting up a 6'x3' tub full of water) so I don't really like it. The foam I use is less aggressive when it comes to expansion and as long as it has a place to go, doesn't put a lot of pressure on the container it's in. Perfect for what it need. After 5 or 6 pours, the mold was full and I trimmed the foam down. I'm using filler to cap it to keep the mess down. Little pieces of foam rub off and just stick to everything, quite the mess.

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    Before I start finishing the mold, I wanted to add a route for a bit of wiring I'm planning. I'm thinking of sticking the power and reset buttons next to the PSU and I wanted a path to get those wires over to the motherboard so they weren't flopping around under the case.

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    One last thing for this update is laying out the general outline of the part I'm making. Since I've got the components marked out, it's a good time to figure out all the edges and get measurements for the part so that I can lay it out after the epoxy. That way I won't have to mark out all the components again.

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    Thanks for following along and a huge shout out to GeForce Garage!

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  5. Dot_Kappa

    Dot_Kappa 100% Puppet

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    A little time-lapse about the foam's expanding process would be nice :lol:
    :naughty:
     
  6. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Minimodder

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    In a mixing cup it looks like a soda fizzing over in slow mo but in the mold it was pretty boring. It went from this:

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    to this in about 15 minutes.

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  7. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    :lol: No clue what you are up to, so I can't whine about making it rounder or oblong.
     
  8. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Minimodder

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    Well, it's gonna be pretty formal, lots of straight edges, so you'll have plenty to comment on later, LOL!:hehe:
     
  9. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    The horror...
    :)
     
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  10. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Minimodder

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    Welp, it's slow going, but there has been progress!

    While I had the mold upstairs to let the last coat of shellac to fully dry(my basement is about 60 F so things take forever to dry and cure) I didn't like how the little cable run looked. It wasn't the straightest and also would have been a pain for the layup so I changed it up a bit.

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    Some more shellac and I was gonna be ready for my epoxy....but I was out of epoxy. Or at least I didn't have enough to coat this thing. But since what I really wanted from the epoxy was a smooth, non-porous surface, paint will work fine, and give me a chance to use up some of the extra paint left over from previous projects. Started off with some primer.

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    And then some gray paint from something. Looks like it's still in primer but that is gloss.

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    Now to layout the outline for my part on the mold. The problem being that I've had countless hours to run over the layup and design in my head with no oversight...now we're going for iteration 37B of my design...full side panels and no wrap around the top for the hinge attachment. That probably means nothing to you all, but for me, it makes cutting the carbon fiber for layup easier and means de-molding will go better.

    I cut the radius that I wanted for my corner to make sure both sides are the same and laid out the pattern with a marker.

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    This next part is sort of an experiment. Right now with the mold, measuring my pattern out is easy-peasy. It would be nice to be able to transfer those cut lines to the part. My idea is to use striping tape to give me a physical lip to cut up to on the part.

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    I'm not sure it'll work the way I want but if it does, that will be a useful trick to know.

    Now to just apply a PVA wax to the mold so I can pop the part off when it's cured and to wait patiently for my vacuum bagging materials to show up.

    Thanks for following along and hopefully it gets more interesting than me just building a box.

    And thanks to GeForce Garage for sponsoring this snoozefest!

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  11. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    NOT a snoozefest. :thumb:
    The horrible lack of content on the logs page is the real snoozefest. (-says the guy that hasn't been able to touch his project since November. :duh: )
     
  12. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Minimodder

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    After letting my body recover from all the blood loss from getting the carbon fiber tub off the mold, I figure it's a good time to show you how we arrived at the blood letting festival and it's product.

    First off, I got the mold covered in PVA wax. Normally I'd just use a brush or rag to spread it around, but with this much area my larger paint gun made short work of it.

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    With the mold ready, it was time to get ready for the layup.

    Cut the pieces of carbon fiber.

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    And get the bagging materials ready. Release cloth and breather.

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    And the ginormous bag.

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    For a little something special, I need to modify two of the pieces of carbon fiber...

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    With some chopped carbon fiber tow. Tow is the individual strands of a carbon fiber weave. A pound of 1" tow and 2 pounds of 1/4" tow.

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    I saw a company was selling sheets of forged carbon fiber, which is basically tow stuck to a backing sheet so you can lay it up like regular carbon fiber. Unfortunately they wanted over $300 for a yard of the material. I'm gonna make my own. The idea is just to use an adhesive spray to hold the tow to the sheet. And the results...

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    And to turn it up to 11, I added some silver foil to the mix.

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    It's impossible to get a good picture of this stuff, but in person it looks pretty good and is ready for the layup.

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    Action shots!

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    Once the carbon was applied with the epoxy, on went the release and breather cloth and into the bag.

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    And after a few hours letting the epoxy stiffen up, I brought the whole deal upstairs to let it finish curing in a warmer environment.

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    After an overnight in 70+ degrees, I could pull it out of the bag. I still couldn't pull it off the mold since the epoxy takes 1-4 days to fully harden and was still flexible. I'll save you all the action shots of me fighting to get the bagging cloths off.

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    After a couple of days, it was de-molding time. Or as I like to think of it, The Night of a Thousand Cuts. I was hoping that once I got most of the sides popped loose with wedges, the tub would just pop off.

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    That was not the case and I wound up having to deconstruct the mold inside the tub. At this point I was cursing myself for building it too sturdy but I did manage to finally free it.

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    All in all, I'm excited with how it turned out. My forged carbon sheets worked, the tape lines on the mold gave me some great cut lines as you can make out in that last pic, and the finish is pretty amazing considering all the horrible things I did to get this thing off the mold. Now I've got some more tow and epoxy coming to do the outside of the case to give it a matching look and thicken up the panels. They're a little flexible for my taste right now.

    Thanks for following along!

    And thanks to GeForce Garage for sponsoring this madness!

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Neat material, but I imagine it's really nasty to play with. You should have used lead foil instead for the extra-hazardous factor. :D
    Handling broken chip board cuts, or paper sorting cuts? :worried: Or perhaps separating broken tile from drywall cuts?
     
  14. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Minimodder

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    I think we're on the order of tile/drywall. Lots of scraped knuckles and some good, deep slashes. Add in fiber splinters and it's a good ol' time.
     
  15. Vault-Tec

    Vault-Tec Green Plastic Watering Can

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    I love the look of forged carbon. Always have. This takes it to a new level !
     
  16. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Minimodder

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    After waiting on materials and re-doing a vanity top(which consumed my shop area), it's finally time to continue on with this thing.

    The next step is adding a few layers of carbon fiber to stiffen the tub up. In order to help keep it's dimensions and to make life easier on me, I would normally stick it back on the mold. Unfortunately I kinda destroyed that so now I get to build a jig to hold it.

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    And after spending a couple of hours searching my house for trim nails for my gun...poof!

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    Even though I believe the release cloth is supposed to leave a texture that helps the next layer of epoxy get some bite, I took a sander to it to knock down high spots.

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    Then figuring out the spots I wanted to reinforce and getting the CF ready to lay up.

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    I also worked up another forged piece for parts of the case that will be on the exterior.

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    With everything prepped

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    And then a mad dash to lay it up.

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    Since there was really no way to vacuum bag this, I used the normal bagging materials but pulled tight and stapled to the jig to give me a similar effect of compressing everything down.

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    Then after four days of curing, it was time to see how it turned out.

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    As good as I could have hoped just using the bagging materials to compress it all down. Next up is to sand it down and give it a few layers of epoxy to cap the outside.

    Thanks for following along and thanks to my sponsor!

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  17. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    It has that 'just pulled off a wet sock' look. :lol:
     
  18. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Minimodder

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    I was thinking pillowed...but yeah...that works...:eyebrow:
     

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